Conservation Lands staff within the Lee County Parks & Recreation Department is responsible for all land management activities at Conservation 20/20 preserves. Staff writes and implements land management plans for each preserve to protect and enhance natural plant communities and wildlife habitat. Land management activities include restoration projects, exotic plant and animal control, prescribed burns and native plantings. Staff also maintain all amenities, including trail systems, boardwalks, restrooms, picnic pavilions, and parking areas. 

Invasive and Exotic Wildlife

Invasive Animals

​​Populations of invasive and non-native (or exotic) animals can severely impact natural systems by outcompeting native wildlife, as well as altering the features of natural areas, hydrologic flow patterns, changing fire patterns and introducing foreign pathogens and parasites. Invasive, exotic animals found on Lee County conservation lands include the greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris), Cuban treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), brown anole (Anolis sagrei), and wild boar/feral hog (Sus scrofa).

al hogs compete for food with deer, turkey, bear, squirrels, foxes, sandhill cranes and other native wildlife. Additionally, feral hogs directly impact natural areas through their destructive rooting and digging when feeding. As a result, this changes succession patterns, soil properties, and water infiltration rates. Feral hogs also have a very high reproductive rate, making it a formidable challenge for land managers to control the population of this invasive animal species.

Invasive Plants

According to the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, there are more than 3,300 native plant species and approximately 1,500 exotic (non-native) plant species in Florida. Exotic plants are introduced accidentally through shipping materials or deliberately for ornamental or commercial purposes. 

Exotic Vs Native Plants

  • Exotic: A species introduced to Florida, purposefully or accidentally, from its native range outside of Florida   
  • Native: A species whose natural range included Florida at the time of European contact (1500 AD)          
  • Naturalized Exotic: An exotic that sustains itself outside cultivation and its native range (it is still exotic; it has not "become" native)
  • Invasive Exotic: A naturalized exotic that is expanding its range into natural areas and disrupting naturally occurring native plant communities. These plants don't encounter the natural enemies in the U.S. that controlled their growth in their home range

Exotic Removal Techniques:

  • Mechanical work (mowing, mulching, and cutting)
  • Hand-pulling
  • Herbicide application
  • Prescribed fire
  • Biological control, such as USDA-released insects and cattle grazing.

Web resources for invasive exotic plants commonly found in Florida:

Land Management Activities

Cattle Grazing

Conservation 20/20 preserves with cattle licenses often consist of overgrown agricultural fields or improved/unimproved pastures installed by previous landowners. Where and when feasible, the goal is to restore these areas to more “natural” plant communities and functioning ecosystems. In the meantime, before restoration work begins, grazing is a useful management tool to reduce overgrown vegetation and control invasive plants. 

Public access

Preserves with public access and an active cattle lease will include signage posted at the entrance to alert visitors to the presence of cattle. Visitors will be expected to not feed or harass livestock.

Requirements & fees

  • If you are interested to lease Conservation 20/20 land for cattle grazing, you must carry premises liability insurance coverage and the Lee Board of County Commissioners must be listed as a certificate holder (see License Agreement for Cattle Grazing)
  • We currently charge $1/acre for improved (fallow agricultural fields & improved/unimproved pasture) and 50 cents/acre for native range (vegetated natural areas)

Contact information/waitlist

Currently, there are no open/unleased parcels available for grazing. For any questions, and to add your name to our waitlist, please contact:

Emily Gear

Prescribed Fire

History of fire in Florida

Fire is a natural process for many plant communities in Florida. Before land was developed, fires were common in many natural areas. These fires were caused naturally by lightning strikes and extreme heat, and later by ranchers to burn wide swaths of land for cattle grazing. Fires would burn until flames reached wetland areas or rainfall occurred.

Today, the landscape in Florida has changed dramatically with the emergence of large cities and towns, and the arrival of millions of people and our homes. Fortunately, land managers have developed a method to mimic natural fire and reduce heavy fuel loads of overgrown vegetation in natural areas. This method is called prescribed fire. 

Prescribed fires are planned in advance for areas where fire-dependent plant communities exist. The timing of a prescribed burn is influenced by seasonal rain conditions and optimal wind patterns. When conditions are safe to conduct a prescribed burn, the fire is monitored closely by trained burn professionals. Typically, flames move slowly and remain low as they burn through the dense understory.

Benefits of prescribed burns

  • Reduced fuel load that has opened the landscape for wildlife and humans to more easily navigate
  • Doves, quail and other ground-feeding birds foraging on dead insects
  • Woodpeckers creating homes in dead tree snags
  • Increased soil fertility and vegetation re-growth, with understory plants returning and wildflowers blooming
  • Improved habitat to increase plant and wildlife diversity
  • Recycles nutrients in the soil and minimizes the spread of non-native plants and tree diseases.

You may notice that some trees do not survive following a fire. However, this allows for the next generation of tree seedlings to become established. This process resembles the historic role that fire played in natural areas. 

The gopher tortoise is one example of wildlife that relies on fire to keep their habitat open and non-dense. Regular fire helps this threatened species to more easily travel across the land to forage on low-growing grasses and flowers. 

Restoration Projects